Endless Cycle

13 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; 14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”

18 Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. 19 And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go. Exodus 10:13-18

Imagine going outside in the morning and the ground is covered with locusts. The inside of their homes were covered too. Pharaoh was not immune to these pests either. Nothing gets done. No one goes anywhere. No one can go anywhere. The locusts eat up all the vegetables growing. You just can’t get rid of them.

Pharaoh seems to be caught in an endless loop: the rules are laid out. Pharaoh refused to let them go. Consequences come. Pharaoh sort of repents. The Lord forgives, and the rules are yet again laid out.

We also see this cycle throughout Israel’s history. Fortunately, the cycle was broken when Christ came to earth. He was mankind’s ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Pharaoh only did what he did because he was a sinner in need of a Savior. He had plenty of opportunity to turn to the Lord God Almighty but it was always on his terms. When it wasn’t expedient for him, he returned to his old ways.

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Let’s Make a Deal

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5 They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. 6 They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.'” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.

7 Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?”

8 Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the Lord your God,” he said. “But tell me who will be going.”

9 Moses answered, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.”

10 Pharaoh said, “The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. 11 No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

12 And the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.” Exodus 10:1-12

At this point, I think Pharaoh knows he’s been defeated, but he’s in a state of denial about it. He wants to let the Hebrews go, but he wants to let them go on his terms. In this passage he wanted only the men to go.

If the hail didn’t destroy all living creatures and plants, for certain these locusts would. What is it, though, about pride that makes people refuse to admit they’ve done anything wrong? He was so close to being free from all the plagues, but he refused to give in to God’s demands.

We live life according to God’s terms. We can try to argue, persuade, cajole, and negotiate with God, but in the end we will lose.

We can’t go to God with conditions as if we’re that old game show host Monty Hall. We in effect say, “If you do this, then I’ll do that.” Well, we can certainly try, but it won’t do us any good.

When God says something’s wrong, it’s wrong no matter how we try to justify it. The Lord wanted Pharaoh to let His people go, all of them. It wasn’t a suggestion. Pharaoh tried to bargain. The Lord said what he’d do if Pharaoh didn’t give in.

Are you trying to bargain with God about something? Are you trying to get Him to do something in exchange for something you’d do for Him. When it’s put in those terms, it’s laughable, and yet we still try.

Give it all over to Him. No bargains, no negotiations, no cajoling.

Respect and honor Him for the God He is.

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The Plague of Hail

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.'”

20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” 23 When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.

27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.”

29 Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the Lord. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. 30 But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.”

31 (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. 32 The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.)

33 Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the Lord; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land. 34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses. Exodus 9:13-35

Where we live in Texas, we have fierce hail storms. No one wants to be out in it because the hail can get to be golf-sized and larger. Fortunately the storms only last a few minutes. Immediately following these storms are the hail-damaged cars and roofs. The hail can damage everything it touches.

What was it like, though, to have days of this kind of hail? It had to have immobilized the entire society.

Even after Moses told Pharaoh about the hail and after it came, Pharaoh said he’d let the Israelites go. Moses didn’t believe him and told him so. Still, Moses went out and sought God to call off the hail. Moses had to be thinking that Pharaoh had to have a breaking point. What was it though? What would cause Pharaoh to bow his knee to the Lord and let the Israelites go?

Probably everyone reading this has someone who is like Pharaoh: stubborn, obstinate, and just refuses to bend the knee. You have been praying for this person but you’re not seeing any “dents” in that person’s armor. You may be the only person in the world going to the Lord Almighty on this person’s behalf.

Think about that.

Keep at it. That person needs you now more than ever. Think of what Pharaoh had to go through. We’re fortunate because we know the ending to this story. We know that he one day will bow the knee and relent. You don’t see that ending for this person, but it’s coming there.

When evangelist DL Moody was asked if he believed God would save such and such person. He responded by saying that the Lord wouldn’t have laid it on my heart all these years if He wasn’t going to save him.

Don’t give up. God’s still working on this person; you just have no idea what stage He’s in.

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The Plague of Boils

8 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. 9 It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.”

10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses. Exodus 9:8-12

The plagues were coming fast now. Even if you’ve never read the ending before, you know it has to end somewhere as the plagues are becoming more extreme.

The Lord did not spare any of the Egyptians with this plague. The pressure was certainly mounting for Pharaoh to give in, but he refused. With this plague, the Egyptians were helpless. With frogs, gnats, and insects, they probably had their own variation of netting to protect themselves. But with boils and sores? Everyone was affected. Recall in Job 2:7 that Job was affected with something similar. It’s completely debilitating and demoralizing.

This certainly is one way to pray against your enemies, isn’t it? That God will use whatever means necessary to debilitate and demoralize and frustrate your enemy. We could probably pray that every day because the enemies of God and His people are becoming bolder in their approaches.

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The Livestock Plague

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” 2 If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, 3 the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. 4 But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.'”

5 The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” 6 And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. 7 Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go. Exodus 9:1-7

The plagues were worsening but Pharaoh was still unrelenting and stubborn. Why, though? He has seen the Lord produce plagues and take them away again. Pharaoh knows it’s nothing his magicians can do at this point, so why does he refuse to let the Israelites go? Is it his pride? Does he honestly believe he can match strength with the Lord.

What’s interesting about this passage is this is the first time the Lord didn’t rescue the Egyptians even though many of the animals died. So the next plague would pile right on top of this one.

How callous of a leader do you have to be to keep doing this to your people? Well, unfortunately, Pharaoh isn’t the worst of leaders, not by a long shot.

As I write this, there are mounting tensions between Iran and the rest of the civilized world. They’ve threatened annihilation of Israel and the United States. Pray for all three countries.

Pray for the people in Iran. They’ve been beaten down for many years. There are Christians in the land but they cannot be vocal.

Pray for wisdom among the leaders of these lands. And pray that the truth will come out about the corruption in the United States that has allowed Iran to continue their nuclear weapons programs.

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